Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Life under Calvin

“When you compare the lives of John Calvin, James Arminius, and John Wesley you find many differences. However, Calvin's life stands out above Arminius and Wesley as a life of power and a life devoted to protecting and defending his theology even if that meant killing others who opposed him. Neither Arminius or Wesley even offered death as a sentence for opposing their theology. Neither Arminius nor Wesley ever demanded that heretics be killed. Neither Arminius or Wesley ever asked that their followers defend their theology to the death with their lives and swords. Even Arminius who opposed the Anabaptists did not want them to suffer any harm and he further wanted them to have religious freedom as well as protection. Wesley was opposed by many Calvinists of his day yet Wesley never once asked for one person to be put to death for their opposition to him or for views contrary to his own. Wesley in fact promoted anti-slavery laws in England and wanted complete religious freedom for all.”


Someone like Turretin Fan might be better equipped to discuss this than me, since historical theology has always been of secondary interest to me, but I’ll say a few things:

1.A Calvinist is under no obligation to defend everything that Calvin ever said or did.

2.Wesley was in no position to persecute his opponents even if he wanted to. However, he was an Anglican priest. There’s a reason it’s called the Church of England. It was a state church. The church of Archbishop Laud. The church of the Act of Uniformity, as well as the oaths of Allegiance and Abjuration. Anglicans persecuted Catholics. Anglicans persecuted Puritans. They persecuted nonconformists generally. Wesley was a party to this system. He was a gov’t employee.

As for Arminius, he was, like Wesley, in no position to persecute anyone even if he wanted to. But Holland also had a state church. Arminius was a gov’t employee. He was party to this system.

3.The Calvinist John Newton was an opponent of the slave trade. The Calvinist Samuel Hopkins was an opponent of slavery. In 1818, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church adopted an anti-slavery plank. Conversely, Southern Methodists were slaveholders.

4.It’s true that Arminianism is generally more tolerant than Calvinism. Whether you think that’s good or bad depends on what side of an issue you come down on. For example, there’s no doubt the UMC is more, in some ways, tolerant than the OPC or PCA. Whether that’s good or bad turns on whether you’re a social/theological liberal or social/theological conservative.

5.At the same time, contemporary Methodists tend to be social activists who lobby to see far left liberal political agenda enacted into law. And that would, in turn, entail discrimination against anyone who dissents from their policies. For example:


Capital punishment, legalized killing by the state, has always been a deeply troublesome issue for religious and non-religious people alike.

Well-meaning people of faith weigh in on both sides of the debate. Some argue the death penalty deters crime and protects society. Others contend that it has not proven to be a deterrence, is biased against the poor and African Americans, and isn't something Jesus would "do." The death penalty is currently legal in 38 U.S. states.

The United Methodist Church, in its Social Principles, officially opposes capital punishment and urges its elimination from all criminal codes. The church's General Conference, a delegated body representing members around the world, meets every four years and is the only entity that can take official positions for the denomination. Those statements are included in the church's Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions. On many issues addressed by the church, individual members hold a wide range of viewpoints, including outright opposition to denomination policy.

The United Methodist Church has held this position for 50 years. At the 1956 General Conference in Minneapolis, delegates first passed legislation that put the church officially on record as opposed to the death penalty.

Each Methodist and United Methodist General Conference since that time has reaffirmed its opposition to capital punishment.


WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church was a founding member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in 1973, and
WHEREAS, the General Board of Church and Society and the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries are currently members of the Religious Coalition, along with national organizations from 14 denominations, including the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalism, Reform and Conservative Judaism, and
WHEREAS, these Coalition member organizations hold a wide variety of views regarding policies relating to specific issues of reproductive choice such as when life and personhood begins but, nevertheless, share common religious values, have official pro-choice policies, and are committed to working together to ensure reproductive choice for all persons through the moral power of religious communities, and
WHEREAS, the Religious Coalition supports the right of all persons to have access to a wide range of reproductive health services including sexuality education, family planning services, contraception, abortion services, affordable and quality health and child care, and
WHEREAS, the Religious Coalition's All Options Clergy Counseling program trains clergy of many faiths to assist women in discerning the course of action that they believe is best in a case of unintended pregnancy, and
WHEREAS, internationally, the Religious Coalition is an accredited non-governmental organization with the United Nations Department of Public Information which supports international family planning services in such areas as South Africa where the Coalition works with churches on HIV/AIDS education and prevention, and
WHEREAS, the Coalition's efforts help counter attempts to enact restrictive legislation that would impose specific religious views about abortion and reproductive health on persons of all faiths, and
WHEREAS, factions within the United Methodist Church whose stated goal is to have the General Conference go on record in opposition to all abortions regardless of the reason are working towards the goal of severing all United Methodist ties with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the United Methodist 2004 General Conference go on record in support of the work of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and
Be it further resolved, that the 2004 General Conference affirm the continued membership of the General Board of Church and Society and the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.


More recently, the United Methodist General Conference held in Pittsburgh in 2004 passed resolutions:

• Calling for a full investigation of the alleged abuse of prisoners of war in Iraq and for adherence to the rules of the Geneva Convention.
• Promotion of better relationships between Christians and Muslims based on understanding and respect for one another's beliefs.

The Board of Church and Society, charged with the task of "seek[ing] the implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements of the General Conference on Christian social concerns," has issued public statements calling for peace and withdrawal from Iraq, along with urging people to take action in support of H.J. Res 55. This bill, sponsored by Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), is the first bipartisan effort to begin the process of bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq.


God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It God's Politics offers a clarion call to make both our religious communities and our government more accountable to key values of the prophetic religious tradition.


Basis: The United States of America, a nation built on equal rights, has denied the right of homosexuals to actively serve their country while being honest about who they are. Meanwhile, The United Methodist Church is moving toward accepting all people for who they are. The United Methodist Church needs to be an advocate for equal civil rights for all marginalized groups, including homosexuals.

Conclusion: The U.S. military should not exclude persons from service solely on the basis of sexual orientation.

See Social Principles, ¶ 162H.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2004.


  1. Steve Hays: "At the same time, contemporary Methodists tend to be social activists who lobby to see far left liberal political agenda enacted into law. And that would, in turn, entail discrimination against anyone who dissents from their policies."

    Here's an European article that confirms Steve's thesis:

    "LIBERALS are fond of brow-beating the Churches about sectarianism and disunity. These twin evils, they say with some justification, are harmful to society because they set one group against another and because sectarianism is, at the very least, uncivil.

    It now transpires that all this liberal bleating about sectarianism and disunity was exactly that, bleating. But it was also hypocritical because when it suits their agenda liberals are very inclined to use sectarian language of their own and have no hesitation adding to the already deep divisions between the Churches.


    The Church of England itself is also in crisis because of its recent decision to ordain women bishops.

    For liberals this is a matter of principle. Equality is equality. If men can be made bishops, then why not women? Likewise, if sexually active heterosexuals can be made priests and bishops, then why not sexually active homosexuals as well? The questions are unanswerable, once you absolutise equality.

    Writing in 'The Guardian' the other day, commentator Theo Hobson attacked the Lambeth Conference for putting unity above (his) principle.

    He was angry that the Archbishop of Canterbury and nominal head of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams, hadn't come down hard on the side of the liberals and strongly endorsed the decision by American Anglicans in 2005 to elect as bishop of New Hampshire an openly homosexual man, Gene Robinson.

    He asked: "Why hasn't a tougher liberal Anglicanism emerged that says the truth of liberalism must not be sacrificed to 'unity'?"

    Conservative and orthodox Christians are used to being lectured about the need to put aside their opposing dogmas for the sake of unity. But as we're now discovering, liberals have dogmas of their own, or rather they have one super-dogma; equality.

    Since its beginning, the Church has taught that only men can be ordained because Christ was a man and because his Apostles were men. But liberals dismiss this argument on various grounds, the chief one being that it creates inequality within the Church. With regard to human sexuality, the Church has always taught that sex has a meaning and a purpose beyond the act itself and that it finds its true meaning only if it takes place within a permanent loving relationship and if the relationship is open to the procreation of children.

    This makes it intrinsically heterosexual. Ordaining sexually active homosexuals would radically change the Church's teaching on sex.

    Liberals, of course, are quite happy to see that teaching change, even though the separation of sex from children, and often from commitment, has been extremely bad for children.

    It has resulted in a colossal number of children being effectively disowned by their mothers through abortion and in many more being disowned by fathers who want little or nothing to do with them.

    Apart from the general liberal view of sex, however, they insist that sexually active homosexuals must be ordained because it is an offence against equality not to ordain them.

    Having decided on these positions, liberals are then happy to employ the most sectarian language possible to describe those who stand in their way.

    All opposition to theological liberalism is rooted, they insist, in ignorance and prejudice, and opponents are summarily dismissed, insulted and derided as 'bigots', 'sexists', 'fundamentalists' and 'homophobes'.

    In any event, it is now perfectly obvious that liberals no longer prize Christian unity. Indeed, they have become its chief enemy.

    The fact is, liberals are willing to sacrifice anything and everything on their altar of equality, because they believe they are right and that they are the One True Church."

    Excerpted from Liberal Dogmatism Killing Church Unity

  2. Hope all of you will, please, consider listening to my analysis of Gary DeMar's endorsement of McCain. And comment, please.

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

    Recovering Republican


  3. Not to undermine the good intentions of those on the right and left of these theological issues, but doesn't this undermine the claim that truth is knowable? If it was so "knowable", there would be very little disagreement, I would think (unless you'd suggest that all the elect agree on all theological matters).

  4. John,

    I'm prepared to read a transcript and comment on that. I'm not going to take time to listen to your critique of Demar. That's not an efficient use of my time.